What you can do
Keep a regular schedule
Go to bed when you are tired and get up at about the same time each morning.
If you're worrying about things during the night, set aside some time for problem-solving during the day.
Create a positive sleep environment
This includes sleeping with comfortable pillows and ensuring that your space is free from tempting technology.
Use your bed only for sleep and sex.
Avoid drinking caffeine after 4 pm and do not drink more than two cups of caffeine-type drinks per day (e.g. coffee, strong tea, cola or energy drinks).
Avoid using alcohol to help you sleep
As the alcohol is broken down in your body, it causes you to sleep less deeply and to wake more frequently.
Allow yourself time to wind down before going to bed and make this a routine. If you are working or studying, stop at least 30 minutes before bedtime and do something relaxing that is screen-free.
Don’t get restless
If you are not asleep after 20 minutes in bed, go to another room until you feel tired and then go back to bed.
But not too late in the evening as it will make it harder to fall asleep.
How sleep affects learning
- Sleepiness slows down your thought processes. Scientists measuring sleepiness have found that sleep deprivation leads to lower alertness and concentration. It’s more difficult to focus and pay attention, so you’re more easily confused. Sleepiness also impairs judgment. Making decisions is more difficult because you can’t assess situations as well and pick the right behaviour.
- Excessive sleepiness impairs memory. Research suggests that the nerve connections that make our memories are strengthened during sleep. It appears that different phases of sleep play different roles in consolidating new information into memories. If your sleep is cut short or disrupted, it interferes with these cycles.
- Poor sleep makes learning difficult. Sleep deprivation affects your ability to learn in two ways. Since you can’t focus as well, it’s more difficult to pick up information, so you can’t learn efficiently. A lack of adequate sleep also affects memory, which is essential to learning.
Online support and apps that help
- Monitor your sleep with Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock (iOS) or Sleepbot (Android).
- Give your mind some well-earned rest with Smiling Mind (iOS) or Headspace (iOS and Android).
- Try a silent alarm clock and personal sleep coach with Lark Up (iOS).
- Being physically active during the day will lead to feeling tired at night. Increase you exercise with Couch to 5K (iOS).